With elections round the corner, rising popularity of younger Ram in Ramayana on NDTV Imagine and Mahabharata with hi-tech warfare on 9X, may impact India’s electoral politics.
History has shown that mythological TV serials can influence voters. It happened after 1987, when Ramayana and Mahabharata were shown on Doordarshan. Arvind Rajagopal, in his book Politics After Television, had found a link between changing electoral dimensions after Ramayana was aired on Doordarshan.
"After the serial there was largest political campaign around the symbol of Lord Ram led by Hindu nationalists," Rajagopal said. Such was the popularity of the mythological serials that cast of both Ramayana and Mahabharata won Lok Sabha. And most of them on BJP ticket.
Can it happen again, is the big question. Rajagopal did not rule out the possibility with the BJP trying to make Ram Sethu an election issue.
Television audience rating for the year 2008 has shown steady rise of popularity of mythological serials, now being telecast by all major television channel companies, at the cost of reality shows and popular K-serials.
Ramayana has got an average rating of over three since it started in May, Television Audience Measurement (TAM), a company dealing in TRP ratings, said. In fact, the serial accounts for 26 per cent of the total viewership of the channel.
Remake of another popular serial of yesteryears Mahabharata has started with a bang. It got TRP rating of 1.91, according to aMAP, another company in the business of TRP. And, it was better than Shahrukh Khan’s Kya Aap Panchvi Pass Se Tez Hain and Salman Khan's Dus Ka Dum.
When asked about the possible impact of epic serials on voters, Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms termed it totally coincidental.